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I am—I will not say how old, but well past middle age. This much I feel compelled to mention, because it has long been my opinion that no man should attempt a history of himself until he has set foot upon the border land where the past and the future begin to blend in a consciousness somewhat independent of both, and hence interpreting both. Looking westward, from this vantage-ground, the setting sun is not the less lovely to him that he recalls a merrier time when the shadows fell the other way. Then they sped westward before him, as if to vanish, chased by his advancing footsteps, over the verge of the world. Now they come creeping towards him, lengthening as they come. And they are welcome. Can it be that he would ever have chosen a world without shadows? Was not the trouble of the shadowless noon the dreariest of all? Did he not then long for the curtained queen—the all-shadowy night? And shall he now regard with dismay the setting sun of his earthly life? When he looks back, he sees the farthest cloud of the sun-deserted east alive with a rosy hue. It is the prophecy of the sunset concerning the dawn. For the sun itself is ever a rising sun, and the morning will come though the night should be dark. In this 'season of calm weather,' when the past has receded so far that he can behold it as in a picture, and his share in it as the history of a man who had lived and would soon die; when he can confess his faults without the bitterness of shame, both because he is humble, and because the faults themselves have dropped from him; when his good deeds look poverty-stricken in his eyes, and he would no more claim consideration for them than expect knighthood because he was no thief; when he cares little for his reputation, but much for his character—little for what has gone beyond his control, but endlessly much for what yet remains in his will to determine; then, I think, a man may do well to write his own life. 'So,' I imagine my reader interposing, 'you profess to have arrived at this high degree of perfection yourself?' I reply that the man who has attained this kind of indifference to the past, this kind of hope in the future, will be far enough from considering it a high degree of perfection. The very idea is to such a man ludicrous. One may eat bread without claiming the honours of an athlete; one may desire to be honest and not count himself a saint. My object in thus shadowing out what seems to me my present condition of mind, is merely to render it intelligible to my reader how an autobiography might come to be written without rendering the writer justly liable to the charge of that overweening, or self-conceit, which might be involved in the mere conception of the idea

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